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‘I feared for my life’: man shares harrowing story of staring down the barrel of a gun

Published: Oct. 14, 2021 at 4:08 PM EDT
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DEKALB JUNCTION, New York (WWNY) - A DeKalb Junction man is alive to tell his story - a story of staring down the barrel of a gun, believing he was about to die. But, he didn’t because the gun misfired, maybe as many as three times.

How does it feel to have someone point a .22 Ruger rifle at you and pull the trigger – not just once, but twice? Clarence Cleveland says he knows just what it feels like.

“I was scared. I didn’t think he had it in him. But, at that point I obviously feared for my life,” he said.

A lot of thoughts ran through the dairy farmer’s head on that September 17th day, but one more than others.

“To be honest with you, I just got my first grandbaby this year. And I love all my family. But, that was probably my first thought is, ‘I ain’t going get to see her grow up,’” said Cleveland.

St. Lawrence County sheriff’s deputies allege 66-year-old Edward Slayko pulled the trigger three times.

Cleveland said Slayko realized what was wrong and chambered a round. Cleveland’s brother was with him and they rushed Slayko. Slayko allegedly used the stock to bludgeon the two. Cleveland still bears the marks.

“Several times during this he kept repeating: ‘I’m gonna kill yas, I’m gonna kill yas.’”

Cleveland said he and his brother subdued Slayko. Sheriff’s deputies arrived. Ten days later Slayko was charged with attempted assault, criminal possession of a weapon and menacing.

Slayko was arraigned in Gouverneur Town Court but his case is now being heard in the town of Hermon. His next court appearance is scheduled for November 1.

Cleveland said he was at Slayko’s Pond Road farm to retrieve property he had left there after leasing the farm.

“It was determined that I was defending myself and my brother. He was defending me. So, we did what we had to do to try to stop the situation,” he said.

Slayko was injured in the fracas and taken to the hospital. He was treated and released.

Slayko’s lawyer, Lucas Mihuta, told 7 News, “It’s our position my client is not the perpetrator. He is, in fact, the victim. He was assaulted by two people trespassing on his property.”

He said Slayko entered a not guilty plea at his arraignment and feels he is innocent.

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